5 Basic ACT English Rules to Live By

ProfessorThe questions in the English section on the ACT measure your grammar, usage, and punctuation skills along with others. As you study for this part of the test, it’s a good idea to review the basic rules of grammar and create some practice sentences. Additionally, learn a few basic ACT English rules of thumb as you prep for the test to maximize your chances of a high score.

1) Look for Subject and Verb Agreement
Looking for agreement between the subject and verb in a sentence is one of the most important ACT grammar rules to remember. As an example, in the sentence, “The horse runs through the field,” “horse” is a singular subject and “runs” is a singular verb. You might also say, “The horses run through the field,” which would pair the plural subject “horses” with the plural verb “run.” If an underlined portion of a passage has a subject and verb that disagree, then it’s time to look to the answer options for a replacement.

2) Read the Entire Sentence Before Answering
The English section on the ACT consists of several passages, and each passage contains underlined words or sentences. Your task is to read the question connected with each underlined portion to find the best answer option. If you think the sentence is correct as is, you can also choose “no change.” You may be tempted to focus on the underlined portion of a passage while ignoring the rest of it, but this is a mistake. Make it a point to read the entire sentence as well as the paragraph. Examining the context in which the underlined word or phrase appears can help you recognize the best answer option.

3) Use the Answer Options to Your Advantage
One of the easiest ACT English rules to remember is to scan the answer options before reading the question. Do the answer options have anything in common? Perhaps all of the options look the same except for adjustments in punctuation or spelling. Does one answer option seem wordy while another is succinct? Scanning the answer options can help you determine the specific skill being tested. Once you know what the question is asking, you are more likely to end up with the correct answer.

4) Check for Agreement Between the Pronoun and Antecedent
Checking for agreement between the pronoun and antecedent is one of the most basic ACT grammar rules to keep in mind. As an example, consider the sentence, “Catherine read her report to the class.” In this sentence, “Catherine” is the antecedent and the word “her” is the pronoun. If a sentence has a plural antecedent, then the pronoun needs to be plural as well. These two parts of speech must agree for a sentence to be correct.

5) Look for Clear and Concise Sentences
As you practice ACT English questions, get into the habit of looking for clear, concise sentences. The creators of the ACT want to know if you can state ideas in a succinct way. For instance, you may see three answer options that all convey the same meaning, but one of those options is short and to the point while the other two seem to have unnecessary and redundant words thrown in. For example, “He made the decision to walk to work on account of the dozens of people already on the bus” is an idea that can be conveyed with fewer words: “He decided to walk to work because the bus was crowded.” Often, the correct answer option is the least complicated one.

At Veritas Prep, all of our ACT tutors achieved a minimum score of 34 out of 36 on the exam. This means that our tutors really know what they’re talking about! Students who study with us learn strategies and tips from experts who have practical experience with the ACT. In addition, you’ll get to work with someone who can provide encouragement as test day approaches: After all, they’ve been in your shoes. When you sign up for ACT instruction, you can choose to participate either online or in person. We make it easy to fit our quality ACT tutoring services into your busy schedule of activities. Contact Veritas Prep and sign up for one of our excellent ACT courses today!

ACT Vocabulary Tricks and Tips

ReflectingStudying vocabulary should be on your schedule of things to do as you prepare for the English and Reading sections on the ACT. Numerous lists are available online that feature words commonly seen on the test.

Fortunately, there are many simple tricks and techniques to help you learn and remember ACT vocabulary words and definitions.

Personalize Your Flashcards
Flashcards are a traditional tool for students who are learning vocabulary for the ACT. But you can make your flashcards more effective by taking them a step further. Include the word, its definition, and a personalized sentence on each flashcard. For instance, if you’re learning the word “cunning,” you may create a sentence about your little sister such as, “My sister is cunning about stealing cookies out of the cookie jar.” The word “cunning” means “crafty” or “clever.” You’re more likely to remember a word and its definition when you study it in a personalized context.

The creators of the ACT are interested in measuring your understanding of words and how they are used as opposed to just the number of words you’re able to memorize, so it’s important to thoroughly understand each word you learn.

Expand Your Reading List
Another successful strategy to use when learning vocabulary for the ACT is to read a wide variety of material. For instance, if you usually limit your recreational reading to fiction, try reading some biographies or articles in science or nature magazines, or choose a subject you want to learn more about, such as an animal, a country, space travel, the Industrial Revolution, or a famous individual in history. You are more likely to be an active reader when delving into a subject you’re curious about.

When you vary your reading material, you are exposing yourself to larger amounts of unfamiliar vocabulary. As you read, make a list of the words you don’t know and look up the definitions later. Try to determine the definition of a word by looking at the context in which it’s used, then check the dictionary to see if you were right.

Use New Words on a Daily Basis
As you are focusing on learning ACT vocabulary, try using some of your newly acquired words in your daily life. Saying a word aloud in the correct context is an excellent way to solidify it in your memory. You could do this in your classes at school, during club meetings, or at home with your family. In addition, try including a few of the words in papers and other assignments for your English classes. Why not score some extra points on your schoolwork as you prepare for the English and Reading sections on the ACT?

Play Word Games
Playing word games is one of the best ways to prepare for the ACT. There are many online games that ask you to match a definition with the correct word or vice-versa. Some games test your speed at unscrambling letters to make a word that pairs with a definition. Various types of word games can be played by two or more people, so you can get together to play a game with a few friends who are also preparing for the ACT. Making the learning process fun with colorful graphics, music, and exciting challenges helps you add to your growing supply of words.

Take Several Practice Tests
Another effective way to prep for the Reading and English sections on the ACT is to take practice tests. This helps you to figure out which skills you’ve mastered as well as the ones that need work. If you’re worried about these two sections on the ACT, completing practice questions can make you feel more prepared on test day.

Our instructors achieved extremely high scores on the ACT, so when you study with us, you have access to the proven tips and tricks used by our instructors to learn ACT vocabulary. But the ACT tutors at Veritas Prep are more than experts at helping you learn ACT vocabulary: we can also teach you strategies you can use on all parts of the exam. Take advantage of our free trial class to become familiar with the material on the ACT and discover what our instructors at Veritas Prep can do to help you succeed on test day.

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ACT English Tips to Improve Your Score

writing essayIn the English section on the ACT, you have 45 minutes to finish all 75 multiple-choice questions. This section tests your grammar and punctuation skills. Also, you have the opportunity to showcase your skills when it comes to understanding sentence structure.

There’s also a Reading section that evaluates your comprehension skills with 40 multiple-choice questions in 35 minutes. But with a little preparation and some useful strategies, you can improve your score on both the ACT English and Reading sections.

Read the Entire Passage
Most students understand the importance of reading all of the passages included on the ACT Reading test, as this section includes questions designed to measure how well you can understand and interpret the text. But it’s just as important to fully read the passages on the English section of the test.

The English section is made up of five passages containing underlined phrases. You’re given several alternative options for each underlined phrase. Your job is to choose the one that’s a better fit for the sentence. You also have a “no change” option if you think the sentence is correct as it is.

One of the most valuable ACT English tips to keep in mind is to read the entire passage instead of just the underlined phrase. Other sentences in the passage can give you clues about the correct answer. The ACT instructors at Veritas Prep can help you boost your score on the English section by guiding you through practice English questions. We’ll provide you with strategies on how to evaluate the options to arrive at the correct answer. Each of our instructors scored in the top one percent of ACT test-takers, so when you study for the ACT with Veritas Prep, you’re working with someone who has mastered the material!

Be on the Lookout for Parallel Structure
Looking for parallel structure in the sentences of each passage can help you to find the correct alternative to an underlined phrase. If an underlined phrase isn’t parallel with the rest of the sentence, then it needs to be replaced with one of the answer options.

An example sentence might be, “Philip enjoys reading, horseback riding, and to swim.” This sentence is not parallel because it contains mixed verb forms. The correct version of this sentence is, “Philip enjoys reading, horseback riding, and swimming.” Philip’s third hobby, “swimming,” should have the same verb form as his first two hobbies. Reading articles in science magazines, online newspapers, and other publications can help you become familiar with parallel structure. The more reading you do, the easier it will be to recognize a passage with sentences that are not parallel in form.

Look for Subject and Verb Agreement
One of simplest tips to remember when completing the ACT English section is to look for agreement between the subject and the verb of a sentence. If the subject of a sentence is singular, then its verb should also be singular. The same goes for plural subjects and plural verbs.

Consider All of the Answer Options
This is a necessary addition to any list of ACT English tips. Understandably, many students are anxious or nervous on test day. Most want to jump right in and get started on the questions. Because of this nervousness, a student may skim passages, glance at the answer options, and choose one that looks like the obvious answer. This is a trap you want to avoid. Take the time to look at all of the answer choices before selecting one. The most obvious answer is not always the right one.

Read the Corrected Sentences to Yourself
Once you choose an alternative option for an underlined phrase, it’s a smart idea to insert it into the sentence and quietly read it to yourself. This can help you to determine whether the changed sentence flows or sounds clunky. If the sentence doesn’t sound right in your mind, it is worth your time to go back and reconsider the option you selected.

At Veritas Prep, we offer a free online ACT prep seminar that gives you the chance to see what our study program is all about. We give you the guidance you need for tackling the ACT Reading and English sections as well as the rest of the exam. Students who work with us prep for the test using the most effective study materials and resources. Our professional instructors are not only experts on the ACT, but they recognize the value of providing lots of encouragement to their students. And you have the option of either taking an online class or participating in one of our in-person courses. Either way, we’ll give you the preparation you need to excel on the ACT!

Still need to take the ACT? We run a free online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!